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Mike Tyson 'disappointed' By Visa Backtrack

Glax0r's Photo Glax0r 03 Oct 2012

Mike Tyson 'disappointed' by visa backtrack

Published: 10:18AM Wednesday October 03, 2012 Source: ONE News

Former heavyweight boxing champion Mike Tyson is "disappointed" by the Government's decision to revoke his visa, his promoter says.

Tyson was due to speak at a special event in Auckland on November 15, after being granted special permission to enter the country despite his rape conviction.

However that all changed this morning after Associate Immigration Minister, Kate Wilkinson, said a children's charity had withdrawn its support for his visit.

Max Markson, the promoter for Tyson's visits to Australia and New Zealand, told TV ONE's Close Up that Tyson is "disappointed" after losing his visa.

"He is quite down about it," Markson said.

What do you think of the decision? Have your say on the ONE News Facebook page

He said he will re-lodge an application for a visa and "hopefully he will get a visa again".

Markson said that although Tyson has been convicted of rape he has "rebuilt his life".

"He's clean, he sober, he's a vegan, he's coming with his wife, his two children under four and his mother-in-law, he can't possibly do anything wrong in 20 hours, even the Prime Minister said he's only here for 20 hours.

"And in addition to that he is very much giving a social and economic benefit to the New Zealand economy."

Willy Jackson, the chief executive of Urban Maori Authorities, said he will invite Tyson to the country if the former boxer is willing to engage with the youth of south Auckland.

Markson said Tyson would "love to do things with the youth of south Auckland".

"His visit was always going to be about raising money, we hope to raise $50-60,000, and hopefully the Urban Maori Authority will want to be the beneficiary of the money we can raise at the Vector."

Markson claimed Tyson is a "walking ambassador for New Zealand when you look at his Maori tattoo".

World reacts

The news has been picked up by the US' Washington Post, Boston Herald, ESPN, CNN, The Australian, the UK's Huffington Post, France 24, Agence France-Presse and Venezuela's El Diario de Caracas.

People from across the globe, including from the Republic of Maldives and Nigeria, have tweeted on the decision.

Derryn Hinch from Melbourne tweeted: "Good to see NZ has revoked convicted rapist Mike Tyson's visa. Hope Australia denies him one too. Some people remember Desiree Washington."

ONE News understands Australian immigration officials are also reconsidering Tyson's entry visa.

Decision welcomed

The majority of responses to the ONE News article have been supportive of the decision to prevent Tyson's visit.

"It's a fair decision we would be treated the same in his country & other countries, once a convict always a convict! Otherwise it defeats the purpose of having a law," Sarah J Anne wrote on the ONE News Facebook page.

"He's a convicted rapist, doesn't matter what he has to say on his speaking tour, you can't change your past. Any other person with the same past would be on the same boat as him so why should he get special treatment?" added Darryn Bennett.

Although there is some support for the youngest ever world heavyweight boxing champion.

"He did the crime and the time, People deserve to be able to move on in life," said Adam Willix.

While Diana Tioke commented that the shifting stance on Tyson's visa reflected badly on the Government: "How stupid does New Zealand look again to America. We will be infamously known as the country of 'flip-floppers'. Stupid, heres some advice, make a decision and stick to it."

Letter of support withdrawn

In a statement this morning Wilkinson explained why Tyson's visa had been revoked.

"The original decision to grant a Special Direction to Mr Tyson was a finely balanced call and a letter of support from the Life Education Trust, that would have been a benefactor from the visit, was a significant factor in approving the application," she said.

"Yesterday evening the Life Education Trust contacted my office and asked for that letter to be withdrawn, making it clear that the Trust no longer wants to have any involvement with Mr Tyson's visit.

"Given that the Trust is no longer supporting the event, on balance, I have made the decision to cancel his visa to enter New Zealand for the Day of the Champions event."

Wilkinson said she had every reason to believe the letter from Life Education Trust board member Peter High was genuine and did not take steps to confirm its authenticity.

"I think I was entitled to rely on it, I don't get an audit trail every time I receive a letter," she said today.

"It was on letterhead, it was signed by a board member of the Trust, I had no reason to doubt it."

In a statement this morning, Life Education Trust Chief Executive John O'Connell said the charity had turned down any association with the visit.

"Life Education Trust (NZ) was approached by the promoter in August to be considered as a charity recipient but we declined to be associated with the event as a charity recipient or any other association with his visit," he said.

"Yesterday, upon a query from a member of the public and with support from Immigration New Zealand we became aware a letter of support had been submitted by one of our volunteer Trustees on behalf of the organisation.

"They had sought the opportunity for one of our local Trusts as part of their fundraising activity."

O'Connell said the board had spoken to immigration to have the letter of support withdrawn and will be conducting an internal investigation to find out what happened.

The Labour Party says there is reason to doubt Wilkinson's competency.

"She's been very sloppy in her management of this issue. I would have thought that she'd be much more careful than she has been," Labour MP Darien Fenton said.

New Zealand immigration law states that a visa will not be granted to a person who has been convicted and sentenced to imprisonment for five years or more.

Tyson served six years in jail for the rape of an 18-year-old beauty queen in 1991, but Wilkinson said she gave special instructions for him to be allowed into the country.

G.D.'s Photo G.D. 03 Oct 2012

I'd guess the New Zealand immigration authorities have seen Hangover 1 and 2.  They know how much trouble a guy like Tyson can get into in just one night- even without his tiger.

mos-def's Photo mos-def 03 Oct 2012

Yeah, I guess better safe than sorry. It's better to not even allow a pittance of a chance to rape and pillage the fine NZ folk. <_<